Writing About The Arts

Creative Writing


In my third year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland I chose to take a module called ‘Writing about the Arts’.

I really enjoy writing for my blog and using it as a portal for reflection. One of the reasons I chose the module, was because I read last year, whilst studying German Lied, that Robert Schumann was a critic as well as a composer. Which made me wonder whether I could work on my writing skills and rather than it just be a hobby I could challenge myself to improve and so that maybe it could become one of the strings in my employment bow 🙂

Last Monday, 1st of December, we had a guest speaker lead our session called Gareth Williams. Gareth is a composer who studied his Masters of Composition at the RCS (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), formally the RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama). He has composed pieces for groups such as the Hebrides Ensemble, Scottish Opera, the Paragon Ensemble, Symposia, the Black hair Ensemble, and the London Sinfonietta.

Gareth Williams


The focus of the lecture was on ‘Writing a Libretto’. A libretto is a story written for a musical work such as an Opera, operetta, oratorio, cantata or musical. In our seminar we focused on Libretto for Opera so he showed us a clip from his site-specific promenade opera: “Sloan’s Project”.

Outside Sloans Bar – Opened 1797

The musical drama takes place at Sloan’s Bar in Glasgow and the audience move around Glasgow’s oldest pub to watch a chain of true stories involving love, vengeance, grief and forgiveness. I have actually been to Sloans Pub for an incredible Ceilidh, (traditional Scottish dancing), it was held in their beautiful ballroom last year and I must go again! 🙂

The Ballroom In Sloans Bar

Gareth finds it very bizarre when people just sing without need in an opera so for this composition he tries to create a realistic reason for the characters to sing.

In the following clip the characters begin to sing stimulated by hearing playing on the jukebox the favourite song of a recently deceased friend which had been played at his funeral.

In another scene, the wake takes part in an upstairs room. The characters have to carry their dead friend up without the coffin as it was too heavy. This was taken from a true story!

David Brock wrote the libretto for the ‘Sloans Project’. Brock and Williams decided to include the Glaswegian accent to emphasise the culture and the sound of Glasgow in the piece.

David Brock


Gareth then created a short task for us to do. We had to write a small story using 140 characters only, the same length as a tweet. For inspiration he showed us a poem by Ernest Hemingway an American author and journalist –

“For Sale
Baby Shoes
Never Worn”

The focus of the story is that Person A wants something from Person B. Here are a couple of examples, why not give it a go, it would be great to see what you come up with!

Here is my attempt;

A: I’m really sorry to have to ask this Mrs Grey.
But I am going to need you to identify the body now .
B: …
B: Yes, that’s Darrel Grey.

This from my Dad

A Did you see what happened?
B No, he is pointing to the floor, I can’t watch.
A Goaaaaaal

47 thoughts on “Writing About The Arts

    1. I didn’t get it at first he had to explain it to me, I should have got it because I always watch football with him and brothers. He’ll be happy you liked it 😊
      Best wishes

  1. You keep surprising me all the time with all your talents. Clever. Here is mine:
    A: Do you think he is dead?
    B: I don’t know, maybe he is just asleep.
    A: Oh, he just opened his eyes!

  2. I don’t know if i understand well but……

    A: what time is it please ?
    B: Yes, the sky is fine with a cloud !
    A : great, give me some milk with my tea!

    Thanks Charlotte, very interesting post , i like to read you, evrytime.
    All the best for you.

      1. Avec plaisir Charlotte, d’autant plus que si le sucre adoucit le nuage de lait, il pourrait faire grand soleil demain 🙂
        Happy, Charlotte, especially if sugar sweetens of milk, it could make big sun tomorrow 🙂
        All the best for you

  3. There is a real need for people trained in the arts to write about the arts. to interpret the arts for a wider range of the public. So that the public understand how essential they are to a society. At least, in the United States, there is less and less support for the arts from a broad range of society.

    1. I couldn’t agree more and I think it’s great that people can just play around with words in a task like this one I set, I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments. Sometimes people forget how creative they are naturally, short tasks can give us a starting point,
      Best wishes

    1. That’s very profound Joe, quite often I’m simply singing someone else’s story, without great words there wouldn’t be such great and long lasting operas and my job would be meaningless.
      Best wishes

  4. I enjoyed the video clip. My husband finds musicals and opera hard to watch/listen to because of the way the characters suddenly break into song. Even harder to understand for him are the older operas with recitative where everything is sung. I enjoy opera and can suspend belief. Music is used as a means of describing the emotions of the characters. I thought I would easily be able to write a short story but my mind has gone blank!

    1. It’s funny how that happens, it’s like being in class and a teacher putting you on,the spot and your mind goes blank. If you go in to an opera expecting that the characters will be communicating through song it doesn’t come as such an unrealistic shock.
      Best wishes

  5. I don’t know how many characters this is, but I once wrote this as a haiku (true story):

    This morning I yelled
    at a piece of cheese and knew
    I was in trouble

  6. That would be a worthy goal for you. Sir James Francis said reading makes the man full, while writing makes the man exact. Always a good idea to add to your skills as a young person with all your potential. May the Lord bless you richly.

  7. Yay writing! I love this type of challenge. 140 characters. Though I’m not in the happiest of moods at the moment I suppose…hence the results of my baby story. Still, writing is good because I think sometimes we’ll write what we’d never say. Or come to realize we feel a certain way that we would have overlooked otherwise. Writing potentially gives us a better picture of ourselves…

    A: Can you tell me why?
    B: You ask for what I cannot give.
    A: But how do you know?
    B: Because, I’m sorry, I do not love you. Keep this ring.

      1. Thanks. Sorry about that. I have one on a lighter note:

        A: Name.
        B: Oh, yes! I have one.
        A: Ookay…Date of Birth.
        B: I don’t recall the exact time; I simply go by what I was told.
        A: …Next!

  8. Nice piece, Charlotte. May I offer a little advice? For the benefit of those readers, who do not share specialist knowledge or are half asleep, it is a good idea to spell out abbreviations in full the first time, with the abbreviated form in parentheses afterwards. Sue

  9. Your writing is alive with enthusiasm and gusto… With such talent I would say to never restrict yourself to just one area. One of our (America’s) greatest writing talent – Mr. Mark Twain – started off as a news reporter, political pundit, literary critic, and left the world with indelible characters such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn….. As for your challenge:

    A: Don’t have a wheel chair.
    B: Then perhaps a crutch or two?
    A: Look frog, would you like your legs back?
    A: That’s all I can do. said Chef

    1. Sounds like you should be in Paris John, I wonder what the lobsters stay 😊. Thanks for your lovely thoughts. Maybe I’ll write a novel one say if I can stick to a structure and not keep going off on tangents.
      Best wishes

  10. I like reading about and listening to your stuff. But I’m totally jealous that someone so young has so much talent.
    Oh here, this one rhymes:

    A: I know your deepest and darkest fears
    B: No tears or wasted years?
    A: No. Just sign here, it’ll all appear
    B: But my soul?
    A: Disappears

      1. Haha! More talent than I have is required for a good libretto 😉 Suppose I could always facebook Mephistopheles and ask for help!! Of course Charlotte, you’d be the star my libretto eh?

  11. I really enjoyed this clip and I think this is a great way to bring opera into new venues. Opera-Up-Close in London did a Boheme in a tiny theatre in Soho and they did the Café scene at the end of the interval in the café/bar where we were all waiting. Andrew Lovett’s modern opera, Lonely Sits the City, started, most beautifully, while we were all milling about before the show. Wow, you set a challenge there.

    Urban fox
    sniffing a box on the pavement
    newborn baby cries

  12. It is so cool to see how multi-talented you are 🙂 Keep up the great writing, singing and a dozen other great things we have seen/learned from you this year!

  13. Creative writing is such a fascinating journey…if our passion of creative writing converges with our profession..it is joy exemplified…Creativity is in our nature but it needs proper nurturing to germinate and grow as idea and a product…

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